Book cover of The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Wabanaki Story

The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Wabanaki Story



Publisher & Publication Year

Tilbury House, 2021

Publisher's Book Page


Suzanne Greenlaw (Maliseet) and Gabriel Frey (Passamaquoddy)

Author's Website 


Nancy Baker



A modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making. As she learns to distinguish sweetgrass from other salt marsh grasses, she is also challenged to overcome her impatience. Slowly, the spirit and peace of her surroundings speak to her, and she gathers sweetgrass as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations.

Notable Achievements

Junior Library Guild Selection; American Library Association Notable Children’s Book 2022; 2022 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People; Picture Book Award 2022 Bank Street Best Children’s Books; 2022-2023 Washington Children’s Choice; 2022 Maine Children's Literary Award


Publishers Weekly: "Emphasizing the importance of conservation and tradition in Native culture, married authors Greenlaw and Frey expertly craft a sweet story that centers a Wabanaki grandmother and granddaughter."

Kirkus Reviews: "Muted illustrations rendered in pastels on brown paper evoke the coastal Maine landscape and fit nicely with the tranquil pace of this lyrical tale. Quiet text shows how careful observation and the respect of nature can provide unexpected gifts."

Educator Guide

Link to Guide

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